Security and risk analysis major showcased at SARMA conference

September 15, 2011

Several professors in the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) showcased the college’s security and risk analysis (SRA) major at an outreach event for the security analysis and risk management community.

The fifth annual Conference on Security Analysis and Risk Management was held Sept. 13-15 at George Mason University School of Law’s Center for Infrastructure Protection and Homeland Security, in northern Virginia, just outside Washington, D.C.  Under the theme of “Security Risk 10 Years After 9/11,” the conference examined what security and risk professionals have accomplished over the past decade and delve into what lies ahead for the profession.

“In my opinion, the study of risk management and risk analysis really began with 9/11,” said Edward Glantz, professor of practice at the College of IST who presented at the conference.

The conference was sponsored by the Security Analysis and Risk Management Association (SARMA), a nonprofit professional association serving those responsible for analyzing and managing security risks to systems, structures and operations from man-made threats.

Representatives at the conference, according to SARMA’s website, included a wide array of individuals from federal, state and local governments, private industry, and academia.

“This is a pretty dynamic group,” said Stanley Aungst, senior lecturer of security and risk analysis at IST, who will attend the conference.

The Penn State panel presented “Curriculum Development Since 9/11” on Sept. 14. Don Shemanski, professor of practice at IST, will moderate and present “Teaching the Threat of Terrorism and Crime: A Scenario Semester Long Approach.” Other panelists included Aungst, “Analytic Games for Counterinsurgency, Evaluation and Assessment”;  Dennis Bellafiore, a senior lecturer in geography in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, “Geo-Spatial Intelligence”; and Glantz, “Risk Analysis Scenarios and Pedagogical Approach.”

The SRA major, which started in 2007, is designed to provide an interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates areas of study in information assurance (both digital and physical security), intelligence analysis, and cyber forensics. Penn State is one of only a few universities in the U.S. that offer a security and risk program, Aungst said.

At the SARMA conference, Aungst discussed his recent work with his colleagues and students in the use of serious games in the classroom to teach counterinsurgency. Aungst was a telecommunications and field cryptographer for information operations during the Vietnam War (1966-69), and continues to participate with the U.S. Army in DFX’s. His curriculum, he said, is based on “what really works in the field.”

Shemanski, who served for 23 years as a diplomat with the U.S. Foreign Service prior to joining the College of IST in 2008, outlined the SRA major during the panel presentation and focus on the two courses he teaches, “Threat of Terrorism and Crime” and “Information and Intelligence.” In the classes, he said, he uses team-based simulations of terrorism-related scenarios.

Graduates of the SRA program, Shemanski said, can pursue careers in a variety of areas, such as intelligence and national security , consulting, and cyber security.

Glantz, who worked in the information systems industry for 20 years, talked about an undergraduate class he taught last semester, “Risk Management: Assessment and Mitigation,” at the SARMA conference. During his presentation, he said, he will emphasize “how we use mini-vignettes to teach risk management.”

In his class, Glantz said, his students were taught various risk management philosophies, including those for man-made and natural disasters, and what all the processes have in common. They then developed a standard process to develop a risk management plan for an organization.

“Students left with a greater appreciation of risk management,” which is important,” Glantz said.

Last Updated September 15, 2011